‘Starfield’ game review: Bethesda’s sprawling space epic takes you to the centre of the universe

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Still from the game

Still from the game
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bethesda is renowned for its expansive single-player RPGs that immerse players in vast virtual worlds. Among its iconic titles, Skyrim, released in 2011, continues to thrive, with versions available on all major gaming platforms and a modding community that keeps it visually competitive with contemporary games. Starfield, Bethesda’s latest original IP, ventures beyond the realms of Fallout and Elder Scrolls to explore the uncharted reaches of space. While Starfield largely adheres to Bethesda’s signature open-world formula, this familiarity is a strength rather than a limitation. At its core, Starfield offers a comforting gaming experience akin to a favorite meal after a long day, ensuring players return for more.

Embarking on your first day as a miner on a remote celestial body, you stumble upon a mysterious artifact that imparts cryptic visions. This discovery leads you on a galaxy-spanning quest to assemble a cosmic puzzle and unearth its enigmatic secrets. As a crucial member of the secretive space-faring group known as the Constellation, you receive assistance in your quest. Throughout your journey, you have the freedom to assume various roles, from a lovable rogue to a clandestine spy or even a spacefaring vigilante commanding a notorious ship, or you can dabble in piracy and pillaging for extra credits. Each choice delves deep into intricate rabbit holes, with lasting repercussions.

Starfield

Developer and Publisher: Bethesda

Price: ₹4,999 on Xbox One and PC, Free with Microsoft GamePass

Starfield boasts a sprawling game world featuring a thousand planets, each brimming with unique discoveries within its sandbox. The game’s vastness ensures a multitude of activities to engage in, including affiliations with different factions and religions, each offering their own missions and progression paths. In Starfield, you are undeniably the focal point of the universe, with everything and everyone revolving around your choices, a hallmark of Bethesda’s meticulously crafted experiences.

While the main storyline revolves around a captivating quest to uncover extraterrestrial life, it is the side missions that truly shine. Some initially appear generic but evolve unexpectedly, resulting in some of the most memorable moments in the game. Sci-fi enthusiasts will particularly relish missions paying homage to classics including Event HorizonAliensStar Trek, and more.

Starfield seamlessly blends elements of a first-person shooter, spaceship simulator, ship builder, and RPG. These gameplay facets harmonise effectively. The gunplay is responsive, offering an array of unique weapons with distinct characteristics. Character progression is tied to mission completion and activities, whether assigned or encountered organically. Players can choose to venture solo or enlist a companion, who, while generally charming, can be rather temperamental and prone to leaving your party over minor provocations. Perhaps some improvement in companion tolerance levels is warranted.

One of the most compelling aspects is crafting and customising your own spaceship. Similar to the settlement system in Fallout, players can construct their celestial abode. Countless hours can be spent perfecting your ship, balancing power, enhancing offense and defense systems, and even replicating iconic sci-fi vessels using Starfield‘s knockoff designs.

Spacecraft controls are responsive, and space battles prove engaging, aided by intuitive handling feedback and cockpit controls. However, it is regrettable that the game offers limited opportunities for space exploration. The fast travel system facilitates instantaneous entry into star systems via a series of loading screens.

On foot, traversal is enjoyable, thanks to the trusty boost pack. Yet, navigating can become nightmarish, primarily due to the cumbersome world map. Oddly, despite well-designed hub areas, the in-game maps lack an overhead view, necessitating the memorisation of key locations, which proves challenging when burdened with excess items.

Starfield is an expansive game offering over a hundred hours of gameplay and, despite its minor flaws, continues to captivate players, leaving them eager to return at every available opportunity. It is undoubtedly a strong contender for game of the year.

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